Stop Ignoring Tech Sensei Smith!


Jon 250 x 310It’s been 18 years since I was first hung up on. I’ll never forget it. I was calling schools to confirm their mailing addresses so I could send them a demo disk for a martial arts software program, and this one gentleman, let’s call him “Sensei Smith”, offered up some advice:

“A real martial arts school will NEVER have a computer in it, so you are better off skipping your next phone call and go find yourself a real job.” (Click).

I admired the purity of what he was saying, then continued to make calls. Apparently, times have changed since then, right? Not really. Not at all.

While desktop computers are the norm at every front desk and many instructors are trying tablets out on the mats, statements like, “I’m a school owner, not a computer programmer” are still a go-to favorite when something technical is being discussed in school owner groups.

On the bright side, there are LOTS of school owners out there making an effort to stay current with new trends with just the right amount of involvement (understanding the benefits and the basics of how these things work). Are you down to learn something new that will help you?

I have two things I want you to do this year for your school, and if you can get it done by Valentine’s Day, that would be awesome.

Let’s figure out who is most likely to hit your site and convert.

Let’s use Facebook’s look-alike targeting feature to bring you more of them.

Still reading? Nice! Here is what I want you to do first. Sit down with the person who was a part of the process of building your website (anyone who knows their way around your site).

Figure out with them:

  • What are the pages of my site that only people serious about trying classes would go to?
  • If you have a “thank you” page that loads after people submit their info to learn more, this is IDEAL.
  • If you offer paid trials on your site, the page that loads after they purchase one is the jackpot (we call this a conversion page).

Put the URLs of these pages on a doc somewhere and keep them handy.

Here’s where there is a fork in the road. It’s about to get techier and I want you to stay motivated to complete the task, so read ahead, but if you don’t see yourself figuring out how to do these next steps on your own, IT’S ALL GOOD because you know at least a few people FOR SURE who could do these steps for you.

We need to login to your Facebook business page, and we need get into the ads manager. What you are going to do is generate what is called Facebook Pixel. This is a little piece of code that you are going to have your web person put on every page of your website. It’s really important to set up the event tracking features correctly and associate them to Custom Audience profiles, so either do your research or get help on this part.

What will these codes do? They will collect information and build profiles based on the people that take the desired actions on your site and put them into data buckets for you.

How long it will take to get a sample of a few hundred people (the more the better) determines when you will be able to put this info to work.


Hold up, we’re not ready yet. We still need to make sure we don’t pull a total rookie move and advertise to our existing students! This part is easy. Just get your most complete list of student/parent emails together in one list and save the list.

Half-way done recap:

  • Make a list of “they are serious about lessons” pages from your website.
  • Put the Facebook Pixel codes up on your site.
  • Generated the most current list of student/parent emails.
  • Wait until you have a sample of a few hundred people (Facebook will count for you).

Now, we can set up some “Look-Alike” campaigns. What this means is Facebook will use the profiles it was able to build from those samples you collected and then go find people on Facebook that are essentially online matches for your school.

It’s like an online dating service, but for your school–kind of creepy when you put it like that, but very effective.

That list of student/parent emails is used in combination with your Custom Audience targeting to ensure that you exclude those FB profiles from hitting your advertising budget, thus ensuring you are only going after new student opportunities.

Did I overwhelm you? Good.

I didn’t? Awesome.

Here are some final things to note that I would want someone to tell me if I were thinking about giving this a shot:

  1. Just get half of the job done to start. You only need the FB Pixels setup correctly, and place on your site really for now, so get that done. 
  2. Advertising is pointless on Facebook without cool content to advertise with. I checked the last issue of Dojo Nation Times before writing this and Tim from 97 Display provided a ton of great content ideas in his marketing soup section. Go check that out and use the next few months to build a mini-content library you can use later to advertise with. Roland Osborne is also a content production master, so follow his posts if you want some freebies.
  3. Don’t delegate things without understanding the basics. There are lots of YouTube videos that explain the ideas from this article, watch eight minutes worth and then hand over the job.
  • Don’t be Sensei Smith and hang up on me here, not being on top of stuff like this is no different than the “schools will never use computers” prediction he made.


Good luck and have an awesome start to 2016!

  • Jon Malach